No driver’s driving the car!


What’s worse than a drunk or sleepy driver driving the car? No driver driving the car! Or is it?

Statistically speaking, the number of accidents and incidents of drunk driving in India seem to whoosh past all previous records. There are only three things that can be removed to prevent this scenario- the alcohol, the car, or the driver. But, drunk driving isn’t the only case where the car nearly or has been crushed or dented in accidents. Sometimes, the drivers are too tired to drive. While it can be avoided by commuters using public transport, what about if the public transport itself is being driven about by a tired driver?

A few years back, Roshy John, a Bengaluru based techie was almost driven into another vehicle by his driver while he was returning from the airport. Five years hence, what came forth from the minds of Roshy and his friends is called the Tata Nano Autonomous. Roshy John, the practise head, robotics and cognitive systems at TCS, and his team of 29 members worked after office hours to first create a 3D. He had bought a Tata Nano in 2011. “The Tata Nano is considered an engineering marvel. What better car to test Indian technology than on a car made in India?” says John. Adding to it he continues, “I had to get data from the car to make it accelerate or slow down based on the RPM”

The car has wheel encoders, multiple lidars (to measure the distance of obstacles from the car), HDR cameras and the very necessary GPS. Pedal robots are attached to the brake, clutch and accelerator and joined to the software. Leaving no stone unturned for his passionate invention, Roshy John took the test to its final level when he jumped in front of the self-driving car. As fruitful as the philanthropic invention was supposed to be, it stopped.

Google Car self driving car

Tata Nano Autonomous was first driven on the roads of Bengaluru where it was stopped by many suspicious policemen and traffic officials because of the many computers, the scanner and the camera that it dons. Speaking of the tribulations of the young inventor, we can’t possibly miss talking about the troubles that he had to go through when he had to import the scanners; he had to write a three-page essay to the custom officials.  Moreover, the cost of this driverless car was over 1 crores of Indian currency. While John has been approached by many companies, he has kept all the offers at bay.

Perhaps, finally, we won’t have trials of men sleeping on pavements been run over by cars or excited drivers drinking and driving around. Will the cars be able to sense red lights?  I hope, the obvious answer is the truth. Finally, one bad news will be wiped off from the newspapers! But, that’s just one and a lot more to go.